Study: Social sites raise risky behavior

Aug. 24, 2011 at 5:32 PM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. teenagers who spend time on Internet social networking sites are at an increased risk of smoking, drinking and drug use, a Columbia University study says.

The study by the university's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that compared with teens who spend no time on social networking sites in a typical day, teens who do are five times likelier to use tobacco, three times likelier to use alcohol and twice as likely to use marijuana.

Forty percent of all teens surveyed have seen pictures on Facebook, Myspace or other social networking sites of kids getting drunk, passed out or using drugs, the study authors said in a Columbia release Wednesday.

"The relationship of social networking site images of kids drunk, passed out, or using drugs and of suggestive teen programming to increased teen risk of substance abuse offers grotesque confirmation of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words," said Joseph A. Califano Jr., CASA founder and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.

"The time has come for those who operate and profit from social networking sites like Facebook to deploy their technological expertise to curb such images and to deny use of their sites to children and teens who post pictures of themselves and their friends drunk, passed out or using drugs," he said.

"Continuing to provide the electronic vehicle for transmitting such images constitutes electronic child abuse."

In the survey of teens ages 12-17, 70 percent reported spending some time on social networking sites in a typical day.

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